Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


Today is a strange day for me. Not only is it St Valentine's Day, but it is Corinna's and my fifth anniversary, and it is the fourth anniversary of the death of my father. There are at least two other anniversaries today of sad events in my life. So it is a day of highs and lows, happiness and sadness, and more bipolarity than my cerebral cortex.

But above all, Corinna and I have been together for five years. Five bizarre and complicated years in which our life has been like one of the less believable soap operas. Together we have dealt with tragedy, comedy, madness, joy, bereavements, a near-fatal car crash, and good times and bad times; but we dealt with them. In doing so I think we have re-written the concepts of "for richer and poorer", "in sickness and in health" and most of the other bits of the wedding vows.

But we have survived them all. I don't know whether what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I doubt it, but we are still here...and Corinna - I love you.

Thank you for being my wife.


As many of you are aware we have been keeping the Rio Cauca caecilain Typhlonectes natans for some years now. However, if we are to establish a viable breeding colony we need some more, and they ain't very easy to get hold of.

For a number of reasons - mostly medical and financial - we were unable to buy any caecilians from the importers whilst they were readily available last year. This is where you can help.

If any of you see any caecilians, but particularly the aquatic Typhlonectes species, in pet shops, garden centres or aquarists anywhere in the UK can you please give me a ring on 01237 431413.


Tony Lucas sent us this the other day. The adult bear has adapted to walking upright because of a missing paw. One wonders how often this happens, and what bigfooty conclusions have been jumped to by witnesses.


The Nova Scotia government, together with the Federal Departent of Fisheries and Oceans, is allowing a cull of seal pups on Hay Island off Cape Breton. Up to 2200 seal pups are due to be cruelly bludgeoned to death despite the fact that Hay Island is part of the Scaterie Islands Wilderness - a protected nature reserve. This dosn't seem to matter to greedy politicians.

Help stop the slaughter.




Today I continue with a look at the mythology of Irish Animals, from the perspective of Dr Daith O'Hogain`s Myth, Legend & Romance – An Encyclopaedia of The Irish Folk Tradition ( 1990)

'Of the three hundred types of international folktales concerning animals listed in the Aarne-Thompson catalogue, versions of over a third have been collected from Irish oral lore, and it is clear that such narratives have been equally popular in different parts of the country down to recent times. Being folktales, these stories are told for entertainment purposes, and the animals in them have roles which make the narrative attractive and interesting, but always fanciful. As such, they are easily distinguished from ordinary zoological lore and superstition….'(1)

Dr O'Hogain then describes a type of folktale involving a fox: a fox sees a man 'bringing a load of fish in a horse-cart. The wily animal lies down on the road at a place where the cart will pass and pretends to be dead. The man notices him and, thinking of the value of the fur, throws him into the cart and travels on. Once the fox gets the man`s back turned he throws the fish one by one onto the road behind, and finally jumps quietly off the cart and collects the fish from the road.' (2)

A story which was very popular in Ireland, as abroad, concerns how the two [fox and wolf –R] enter a cellar at night and begin to gorge themselves with food…The fox eases off at the eating after some time, and walks in and out through the narrow entrance, while the wolf jeers him for his apparently eccentric behaviour. The wolf eats so much that his body greatly expands, and therefore he cannot make his getaway when humans come. His more clever companion had kept s careful eye to his waistline and thus got cleanly away (3)

Stories about birds also feature. The fanciful idea that these once held a parliament to decide on the functions and habits of each of them is found widely…as is the related story of how the wren became king of the birds. It was decided that whichever of them could fly the highest would be given that exalted office, and in the contest the eagle flew away above every other bird. The wren hid in the eagle`s tail, however, and when the great bird tired and could get no higher the wily little fellow jumped out and went higher still (4)

Regarding fish, the only folktale which has become widespread in Ireland is an explanation of why the flounder has a crooked mouth.We are told that it acquired this deformity because it once mocked a hungry saint who desired a fish, and a detail is often added to the effect that the salmon acquired its agile leap because it generously jumped into the breast of the holy man on the same occasion. (5)

Another agile water-creature which attracted attention was the otter, called in Irish `dobharchĂș` or `madra uisce`, both of which terms mean `water-dog`. In the biographies of the saints, otters are sometimes portrayed as assisting the holy men by providing fish for them. Folk belief held that otters slept with their eyes open, and a special and rare kind, called the `king-otter` never slept at all. The king-otter, it was claimed, was an extraordinary large male specimen, white in colour, but with the tips of his ears black and a black cross on his back. He was vulnerable only to a bullet made from silver, and the person who came into possession of a piece of his skin was, however, very fortunate indeed. That skin would guarantee safety at sea to any boat on which it was kept, safety from fire to any house in which it was, and safety from all accidents to any man who had a piece of it in his pocket. (6)

1 Dr D O hOgain. Myth,Legend & Romance – An Encyclopaedia Of The Irish Folk Tradition (1990) p. 26
2 Ibid pp 26-27
3 Ibid 27
4 Ibid .p.28
5 Ibid p.28
6 Ibid p.32

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monsters of Prague (Part Three)

The Fish Eating Vampire of Stromovka Park

Karel Sabina (thought to be a pseudonym) was the aide to General Windschgratz, the Austrian military leader who bombarded Prague in 1848. The mysterious man came from a noble Carpathian family. He would bathe naked in the lake in Stromovaka Park on moonlit nights and the fish were said to swarm around him in 'military formations'.

One night a miller called Vondra beat him to death with a club and tossed his body into the lake where it sunk into the deep mud. The cadaver remained when the Austrian troops left Prague.
Sabina was said to have become a sort of ineffectual vampire. He succeed in biting only one senile old woman and one lost child. He is said to subsist on rotting fish meat and insect lavae. The creature is slow moving and can be detected by the bubbles of mud it blows through its nose.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1913 Jimmy Riddle Hoffa (honestly, I kid ye not; that is his real name) was born. Hoffa became internationally famous for his disappearance in 1975 and the numerous urban legends about his final resting place including that he was buried in one of the end-zones in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, USA.

And now, the news:

Fisher-Price Brings BIGFOOT To NYC Toy Fair
That guy's gone in search of Bigfoot
Bigfoot believer shows his proof
Daniel Ferstl: "Searching for Bigfoot"
Bigfoot: Fact or Fiction? We search for the truth

Sasq-‘watch’ this space for more Bigfoot news in the future…
(yes, I was saving that pun).

CFZ ARCHIVING PROJECT: General Forteana Part One

As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009 and he is now working on a general mish-mash of a section known as `General Forteana`. This first trenche has spectral black dogs, giant snakes, ghosties and UFOs as well as other bits and bobs. Good stuff.



Some months ago I wrote a post bemoaning the ending of a daily webcomic called Scary Go Round. It was one of the vaguely fortean webcomics that I read every morning as I sip my Lady Grey and wish that I hadn't quit smoking. As I wrote:

'It is the end of an era, albeit a fairly small era. Since 2002 John Allison has been drawing a webcomic called Scary Go Round. The Sunday Times describes it as "postmodern Brit horror" that is "subtle and stylishly drawn, with a bold cartoon edge." The Morning Star has called it "brilliant, bonkers" and "the best British strip that I've yet found." For the last three years I have read it every morning.'

In September it was replaced by a new comic, albeit one still set in the fictional northern English town of Tackleford, and featuring some of the same characters. It is called Bad Machinery and is - to my mind at least - far superior to its predecessor. There are more complex plotlines and more intricate artwork in muted colours that bring a whole new subtlety to Allison's work. The stories are still vaguely fortean and I enjoy them immensely.

Sadly, it seems that the appeal of this new comic is more selective than its predecessor, and I am feeling mildly guilty for not having thrown the CFZ publicity machine in to help. Never mind, better late than never. Check it out, guys; you will not be disappointed...

LINDSAY SELBY: Strange incident at Loch Ness 2002 and blowing my own trumpet

My blog is a year old this weekend (SEE IT HERE). I thought it might go for 6 months but thanks to the followers and readers it continues on. So, happy birthday blog. In view of the winter Olympic Games starting this weekend I thought I would look back at a strange incident at Loch Ness in 2002 before the start of the Commonwealth Games. Here are the 3 reports from the time:

Report 1 -Jun 11 2002
'The Commonwealth Games baton had a close encounter with a mysterious object when it was lowered into Loch Ness. It was put inside a protective capsule and sent 220 metres down to the bottom of the loch as part of a new bid to find out if a creature really does exist in the murky waters. It was resurfacing when a specially designed camera system lost contact with it after an unidentified object appeared to block its journey back to the surface. Images beamed on to a screen on board the support craft could not identify the object that crossed the baton's path.'

Report 2- 10 June 2002

By John Innes http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2034373.stm

Nessie hunters have failed in their latest attempt to find the Loch Ness monster - using the Queen's Golden Jubilee baton. It was lowered into the loch during its five-day tour round Scotland but failed to find any sign of a heartbeat in the murky depths. However, organisers reported seeing "something pretty weird" as the baton neared the surface.

The search for Nessie has baffled monster hunters for years. Reported sightings date back to the 7th Century, when a water beast is said to have appeared before St Columba. Films, photographs and eye-witness accounts have all been offered as evidence of the creature's existence down the years, but definite proof has remained elusive. The latest attempt to find the monster in the depths of Loch Ness took place on Sunday. The Jubilee baton, which contains a device that can detect a pulse rate, was lowered 220 metres to the bottom of the loch from a boat. There have been several reported sightings

Images of the baton underwater were beamed onto screens aboard another vessel, the Jacobite Queen, which was carrying about 100 guests. Event director Di Henry said there was "a strange interruption" as the baton neared the surface again. "There was a thing in front of the camera," she said. "It looked pretty wooden. It could have been wood or seaweed or it could have been Nessie." And she added: "I'm not so sure we didn't see something ."It was pretty weird what we saw. I wouldn't want to overstate it, but it wasn't something I expected myself."

Report 3-


NESSIE, that most elusive of creatures, made a perhaps unsurprising appearance yesterday, as organisers of a baton relay tried to drum up interest in the Commonwealth Games. They claimed to have seen "something pretty weird" in the waters of Loch Ness yesterday when the Queen’s Jubilee baton was lowered into the water in a bid to find the world-famous monster. The alleged sighting of one of the world’s most famous underwater creatures took place on the second day of the baton’s five-day tour north of the Border. Di Henry, the event director said the baton, which contains a device that can detect a pulse rate, had been put in a water-proof tube and lowered down 220 metres to the loch bed on a cable from a deep scan vessel. She said pictures from the baton were beamed onto a screen on a separate boat carrying about 100 guests. She added: "As the baton returned to the top of the water there was a strange interruption. There was a thing in front of the camera. It could have been wood or weed or it could have been Nessie."

Was Nessie coming up to see who was invading her waters? Or was it the log of wood that some people favour? There is not a lot of weed in Loch Ness (certainly no seaweed as one report says) so it would have to be a log or a creature of some kind.


KITHRA WRITES: While reading one of Nick Redfern’s many blogs I see that he’s about to review a new book entitled: “Solomon Islands Mysteries” by Marius Boirayon. In his very short post Nick mentions that the book contains information about Bigfoot-type creatures.

I have to admit, that even with my own long-held interest in what many would simply term Bigfoot this was a completely new idea to meREAD ON...



I had a telephone yesterday evening from Matty Osborne, who has been somewhat absent from these pages of late (quite understandably so, considering the soap opera his life has been over the past few months). Had I heard about the Exmouth UFO, he asked me, knowing that together with my old mucker Nigel Wright I once wrote a book (The Rising of the Moon) on the subject.

I hadn't, and told him so, and went back to my own somewhat peculiar existence. I then forgot all about it, until this morning when he emailed me with the above link. And guess who was cited in the Exmouth UFO story? None other than Nigel, my erstwhile co-author and occasional contributor to these hallowed pages. Small world innit?

RICHARD FREEMAN: Monsters of Prague (Part Two)

The Burning Man

There are several of these fiery creatures in the folklore of Prague; they are humanoid figures that are covered with fire and resemble `The Human Torch` from The Fantastic Four.
One such being haunted a street called Na Porici and terrified all who met it.

One night a drunken Cobbler called Matej met the entity and commented on how beautiful its flames were, how warm they felt and how they lit up the area nicely.

"That is because I'm enchanted" said the Burning Man, surprised that the man had spoken to him.

"If you are enchanted you get nothing, no wife, no children and no home" said Matej.

"Have you ever drunk beer?" he asked.

The Burning Man sadly shook his head saying that the beer would put out his flames and no one would fear him anymore. The two walked until they reached Matej's home, chatting as they went. The Buring Man asked the cobbler about world events and news. When they got to the door Matej thanked the creature for accompanying him home.

"May God's greetings be upon you" he said.

Upon hearing that, the Burning Man's flames flickered out and he crumbled into a pile of ash. He had been waiting for a Christian greeting to free him from his curse for 300 years. Another, perhaps more pleasing version says that the comming of street lighting forced the Burning Man away to darker corners of the city where he still may lurk.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1542 Catherine Howard, the 5th wife of the spectacularly unlucky-in-love King Henry VIII, was executed. Her ghost is reputed to haunt Hampton Court where she re-enacts her final desperate and hysterical pleadings for clemency to Henry before she was imprisoned and later beheaded. When executed, her head was cleaved from her body with a single blow of the axe and held up to show the crowd, and as this happened the head was seen to blink, still alive and conscious as the blood drained from it.
And now, the news:

Croc's whiter shade of pale has boaties looking twice
Bull Vs Tiger
Running elephants and dancing bees
Crabzilla climbs out of the deep

Q: What wears a string vest, comes from Scotland and has pincers?
A: ‘Crab’ C. Nesbit.